- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Sacramento Kings reached an agreement in principle with Paul Westphal late Tuesday night to be their fourth new coach in just over three years.

Westphal, a longtime NBA player and coach, went 267-159 during parts of seven seasons leading the Phoenix Suns and Seattle SuperSonics. He replaces interim coach Kenny Natt after the Kings finished 17-65, the worst record in the NBA and in franchise history.

“We set some parameters at the start of this coaching search to look for a successful, experienced leader, and Paul certainly meets those qualifications,” said Geoff Petrie, the Kings’ top basketball executive. “He has a wealth of experience in the NBA as both a coach and player.”

Westphal is Sacramento’s latest attempt to replace Rick Adelman, who was fired by owners Joe and Gavin Maloof in 2006 after eight straight playoff appearances and winning seasons.

The Kings fired Eric Musselman in 2007 after one tumultuous season, and NBA coaching newcomer Reggie Theus barely made it into his second campaign before being fired last December. Natt wasn’t retained after finishing up a miserable season with Sacramento, which even slipped to the No. 4 draft slot in last month’s lottery.

Westphal’s impressive NBA coaching record includes with one trip to the finals with Phoenix, but he has spent just one season on an NBA bench since late 2000, as an assistant in Dallas in 2007-08.

“I’m really excited,” Westphal said in a news release from the Kings. “This is a great opportunity, and I really appreciate the confidence the Maloofs and Geoff Petrie are showing me. I can’t wait to get to work.”

Westphal spent the season as the Mavericks’ executive vice president of basketball operations after his one-year stint as an assistant. He first interviewed for the job in Sacramento three weeks ago, and the Kings also spoke to Eddie Jordan, Kurt Rambis and Tom Thibodeau before additional interviews with Westphal.

Westphal led the Suns to the NBA finals in his first season as coach in 1992-93, and Phoenix made the playoffs two more times before the club dismissed him during the 1995-96 season. He took over the Sonics in 1998, reaching the playoffs in 2000 before getting fired 15 games into the following season.

He had less success during five subsequent seasons at Pepperdine, where he went 76-72. He dabbled in broadcasting before joining the Mavericks in 2007.

The former first-round draft pick from Southern California also played 12 NBA seasons with four teams.

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